If the dog in front of the butchers on Broadway Market in London had money it would probably spend it all in there. And it would become a repeat customer quickly. Because the idea of meat makes triggers happy emotions in the dog’s mind.
Did you know that clients who feel emotionally connected with a brand spend on average twice as much annually with that brand as highly satisfied customers! The article “The New Science of Customer Emotions” in the Harvard Business Review states exactly that. This doesn`t just apply to brands but to businesses in general: small stores, big companies, creative artists – anybody who has customers.
Say, I wanted to buy fruit. Of course, I wanted the basics to be according to my wishes: I need to find it tasty, it should be fresh and preferably organic, and I want it to look good and appetizing. But there are hundreds of stores in London and dozens in my area, that sell exactly that. So, to which shop do I go?
This all comes down to emotional connection. According to the article and consumer experience, this is an even more substantial factor than price or satisfaction with a product or service. Why else would people buy from high-end brands like Chanel or Jaguar? “You pay for the name”, people say – and this is because the brand identity triggers an emotion within us that we like (…or don`t like and in that case, we don`t enjoy buying from that business so much and will run to its competitor at the next best opportunity).
According to the article, some of the most common emotional triggers are: feeling special, feeling confident and hopeful, a sense of well-being, a sense of thrill, feeling free, a sense of belonging, feeling like doing something good for the environment, feeling secure, and the idea of succeeding.
More than satisfaction
If the story of a store, a company, an artist, or a brand triggers one or more of these feelings in a person, this person is likely to become a fan. These stories are usually told most effectively in visuals because images can trigger emotions in us within seconds. If we can relate, we want to support this brand and we feel good about spending money with this business. And as a result, we spend on average twice as much with this business as someone who just has his or her basic needs satisfied (like design, quality, functionality, or comfort).
On a side note: This also illustrates why we cannot please everyone, because people’s emotions get triggered by different kinds of visuals – not everyone has the same hopes, not everyone likes a thrill, or not everyone cares a lot for the environment. And the best stories we can tell are those that are authentic and true to ourselves as a business and brand.
Customers become fans
Back to this kind of “mechanism” in the fruit example: If we see the images of a food store, they may give us a sense of home (belonging), well-being, or hope for fitness and health. Then we will feel emotionally connected with that store. And if they happen to sell the fruit we like, that will be the place for us to go and buy some. And we`ll probably buy it there next week, too. We will recommend that store to friends in the neighbourhood. Because we`ve become a fan and want this business to succeed and we are happy to be part of that success. So that we can relive the story and the triggered emotions again and again when doing our shopping in that store and when we have its products in our homes.
For us businesses and freelancers, this means that we must not carelessly post bad images of our products but that we make sure that our visuals transport an emotion. Also, it would be helpful to focus on a handful of similar emotions so that our message can be understood – and felt.